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Latvia

A. UN Convention status

A1. Ratification or conclusion of the UN Convention

Latvia signed the UN Convention on 18 July 2008. The law on the Convention was adopted on 28 January 2010. The Convention entered into force on 31 March 2010.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

A2. Ratification or accession to the Optional Protocol

The Optional Protocol was signed on 22 January 2010 and ratified on 31 August 2010, in the headquarters of the UN General Assembly in New York.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

A3. Declarations, Reservations and Objections

Latvia signed and ratified the UN Convention without any interpretive declaration or reservation. No objections were submitted.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

A4. Comprehensive review

On 29 May 2008 the Saeima (Latvian Parliament) obligated the Government to review existing national legislation. The responsible Ministry of Welfare sent an informative letter (Nr.18.3-03/4452 'Par Valsts kancelejas kontroles uzdevuma Nr.2008-2046 izpildi') to the State Chancellery on 31 December 2008, stating that national legislation in general corresponds to the Convention objectives. It mentioned that the Convention requirements of access to services, education and employment and accessible environment, are included in the existing legislation, but in praxis, there is a lack of financial resources for implementing them and for further development. It was also stated that in accordance with the Convention’s Article 12 ’Equal recognition before the law’ and Article 17 ’Protecting the integrity of the person’ changes are needed in the Civil Law, the Civil Process Law and the Guardian Court Law enforcing partial legal capacity. On 29 November 2012 the Saeima accepted changes in the Civil Law enforcing partial legal capacity. Amendments to the Civil Law, the Civil Process Law and the Guardian Court Law were enforced from 1 January 2013 on.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

A5. Focal point

According to the Law on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Ministry of Welfare coordinates the implementation of the Convention. The implementation of the Convention is monitored by the Ombudsman - an independent institution whose function is to encourage individuals to contribute to the protection of human rights and ensure compliance with the principle of equal treatment and the prevention of any kind of discrimination. Other ministries (such as the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Traffic and others) are responsible for the implementation of specific activities according to the sphere of their competence.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

A6. Coordination mechanism

The coordination mechanism within the Government is not formally established. It is carried out through the National Council for Disabled Persons, established by the Ministry of Welfare in 1997. In 2016 the name of the council was changed to the National Council of Disability Affairs (NCDA). NCDA involves ministers responsible, the Ombudsman, the Chairperson of the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, the Chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission, the Director of the Foundation for Society Integration, the President of the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia and the representatives of key non-governmental organisations (such as Latvian Deaf Association, Latvian Blind Society, the organisation of people with disabilities and their friends ’Apeirons‘, Latvian organisation for the disabled ’Sustento‘, Latvian Association ’Rupju berns‘ and others). The Chairperson of the NCDA is the Minister of Welfare. Starting from 2009, questions about the implementation of the Convention have been included in every meeting. NCDA sets up different working groups for tackling different matters set by the Convention where all members, on equal rights, have possibilities to define problems and recommend solutions. The coordination of the implementation of the Convention will also be carried out through several working groups organised by the Ministry of Welfare for the implementation of the Convention.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

A7. Independent mechanism

The implementation of the UN Convention is monitored by the Ombudsman - an independent institution whose function is to encourage individuals to contribute to the protection of human rights and to comply with the principle of equal treatment and the prevention of any kind of discrimination. On 3 December 2015 the Ombudsman, in cooperation with the Organisation of People with Disabilities and Their Friends 'Apeirons' and the National Library of Latvia, organized the conference 'Legal aspects of the UN CRPD in Latvia', during which the monitoring results of the UN Convention for 2010-2014 were presented. In 2015 the Ombudsman paid attention to the Rights of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities. In 2016 the Ombudsman, in cooperation with Organisation of People with Disabilities and Their Friends 'Apeirons', monitored access to higher education for people with disabilities. On 3 December 2016 the Ombudsman in cooperation with Organisation of People with Disabilities and Their Friends 'Apeirons' and the National Library of Latvia organized the conference 'Accessibility to Education'. The topic of the 2017 conference was 'Access to the labour market for people with disability'. At the beginning of 2017, the Ombudsman submitted to the Saeima the report monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention from 2010 to 2016.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

A8. Official reporting

Latvia's initial state report was due in April 2012, two years after the ratification of the Convention, but it was not submitted. On 11 February 2014 the Government (the Cabinet of Ministers) accepted the Initial Report, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted it to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in April 2014. On 14 June 2017 Latvia submitted Replies to the List of issues in relation to the initial report of Latvia.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

A9. Shadow reporting

The initial state report was prepared in cooperation with NGOs. The most relevant proposals included were submitted by the Association of people with disabilities and their friends 'Apeirons', the Resource Centre for people with mental disability 'Zelda', the Association Latvian Movement for Independent Living, the Latvian Umbrella Body For Disability Organisations SUSTENTO, the Riga City 'Child of Care' and the Latvian Association of the Deaf.
In 2017 the Ombudsman of Latvia submitted the Alternative Report on the Initial Report of the Republic of Latvia Regarding the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 13 December 2006 in the Republic of Latvia Between 31 March 2010 and 31 December 2013. The Resource Centre for people with mental disability 'Zelda', the Association Latvian Movement for Independent Living, the Latvian Umbrella Body For Disability Organizations SUSTENTO submitted proposals for the List of issues in relation to the initial report of the Republic of Latvia. The Ombudsman submitted the General Comment of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Latvia Regarding the Response Report “Answers to list of issues to the Initial Report of the Republic of Latvia on the Implementation of the UN CRPD of 13 December 2006 in the Republic of Latvia from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2016” Submitted by the Government of the Republic of Latvia, and the Latvian Umbrella Body For Disability Organizations SUSTENTO submitted responses to the list of issues.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

B. General legal framework

B1. Anti-discrimination legislation

There is no specific law for non-discrimination on the grounds of disability. Article 91 of the Constitution (Satversme) states that all people in Latvia are equal before the law and the court, and human rights shall be realised without discrimination of any kind. Non-discrimination norms are included in several national laws, policies and strategies. The Law on Social Security (1995) identifies equal access to social services and legal protection. The Law on Local Governments (1995) sets out the general provisions and economic basis for the activities of the local governments of Latvia. According to the Law on Protection of the Rights of the Child (1998), the State shall ensure the rights and freedoms of all children without any discrimination. The Law determines that a child with physical or mental disabilities has also the right to everything that is necessary for the satisfaction of his or her special needs. The Education Law (1998) states that every citizen of the Republic of Latvia and every person who has the right to a non-citizen passport issued by the Republic of Latvia, every person who has received a permanent residence permit, as well as citizens from the European Union Member States who have been issued a temporary residence permit, and their children, have equal right to acquire education, regardless of their health status. After ratification of the UN Convention on 12 October 2009, the Government (the Cabinet of Ministers) approved policy planning papers for certain time periods. On 21 November 2013 the Government (the Cabinet of Ministers) approved the Guidelines for the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2014 – 2020 defining the basic principles of disability policy resulting from the Convention basic principles. On 15 December 2015 the Government approved the Implementation plan 2015-2017 of the Guidelines on the Implementation of the UN CRPD 2014-2020, where specific measures to reach the goals defined in the Guidelines are set.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

B2. Recognition of legal capacity

Persons with disabilities, according to the Satversme and the Civil Law, have equal rights to any other person without disability, except, if the person with disability is deemed not able to defend his/her interests in which case a trustee or a guardian is assigned. The legislation of the Republic of Latvia currently provides both procedural and material legal acts that regulate the cases in which a person's capacity to act can be restricted by the judgement of the court and in which cases it can be renewed. According to the procedural legal acts in Latvia all persons can realize their rights via a legal representative. Article 216 of the Civil Law (1937, enforced 1993) states that persons in need of protection shall be entrusted to the care of guardians and trustees who shall act on behalf of these persons. The amendment to the Civil Law (in force from January 2013) states that a court may limit the legal capacity of a person to the extent to which a person with mental health or other health disorders is unable to understand the significance of his or her actions or is enabled to manage the actions instead of recognizing a person as not having the capacity to act. When the person's abilities are assessed, the court, at first, defines if and to what extent a guardian acts together with the person with disability and only afterwards - if and to what extent a guardian acts independently. Chapter 33 of the Civil Procedure Law (1998) provides legal provisions concerning a person with limited ability to act and establishing trusteeships or temporary trusteeships.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

B3. Accessibility of voting and elections

The Constitutional Law (Satversme) determines that every person has the right to vote (Chapter on Basic human rights) without any limitations. The Saeima (Latvian Parliament) Election Law, the Law on European Parliament Elections, the Law on National Referendum and Initiation of Legislation, and the Law on the City Council, the Local Council and the Rural Municipality Council include provisions for people with disabilities. If physical disability prevents a voter from voting or signing the voters’ list, a family member or other trustworthy person shall make marks on the ballot paper in the voter’s presence according to his/her instructions. If any voter is unable to travel to the polling station for health reasons, on the basis of a written request filed by the disabled person or a person authorised by a disabled person and registered in a special journal, the polling station commission shall conduct a voting by secret ballot at a place where the voter is located (at home, social care centre, hospital).

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

B4. Official recognition of sign language

Article 3 of the Official Language Law (1999) states that the official language in the Republic of Latvia is the Latvian language. In the same Article, in section 3, it is stated that ’The State shall ensure the development and use of the Latvian sign language for communication with people with impaired hearing.’ This statement is not recognised in any other laws.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

B5. National disability strategy and action plan

The first Action plan for the implementation of the Convention 2010-2012 was adopted by the Government in October 2009. The action plan in general includes short term activities without additional financing or supported by the EU Structural funds. One of the tasks was the elaboration of the Convention implementation programme for 2013-2019. On 21 November 2013, the Government (the Cabinet of Ministers) approved the Guidelines for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2014-2020. The Guidelines state that, despite the fact that in 2009 the Government approved the first Plan for the Implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, there are still many people with disabilities who have not been able to exercise their rights in areas defined by the UN Convention. On 15 December 2015 the Government approved the Implementation plan for 2015-2017, where specific measures to reach the goals defined in the Guidelines were set. Education, labour and employment, social protection and public awareness are set out as priority areas in the field of disability policy for 2015-2017.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

C. Accessibility

C1. Transport accessibility

Transport providers are required to provide accessibility for disabled passengers in specific laws regulating each of the public transport fields. The Law on Public Transport services (2007) and consequent regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers regulate the transport field. Regulations No.599 ’The Order of Provision and Utilization of Public Transport Services’ (2012) determine procedures for the provision and use of public transportation services, including that all information in a bus about bus stops shall be accessible in visual form and carried in audio form. Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers No.846 ’Regulations on the Order of Registration of the Bus Stations, Obligatory Services Provided by the Bus Stations and the Order, How Buses Arrive and Stop in the Territory of the Bus Station’ (2007) based on the Law on Carriage By Road (1995), provide that services rendered by the bus station will be accessible to all visitors of the bus station and adjusted to disabled persons. The regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers No.148 ’Requirements for Obtaining a Special Permit (License) from the Planning Region and the Republic Cities and the Procedure for the Carriage of Passengers by Taxi’ (2018) states requirement that in case of necessity, carrier supports person with disability to get into and out of taxi. LVS 190-8-2012 ’Regulations on the Design of Bus Stops’ (2012), LVS 190-10-2007/A1:2010 ’Regulations on the Design of Pedestrian Crossings’ (2010) and LVS 370:2010 ’Road Traffic Control Equipment. Signal Heads’ (2010) must be taken into consideration. The National Standard LVS 448:2012 ’Railway applications. Passenger platforms for 1520mm railway lines’ lay down general requirements. Regulations No.1193 Amendments in Cabinet Regulations of 29 December 2010 no. 1210 Regulations Regarding the Interoperability of Trans-European Rail System (2013), prescribe that disabled passengers have the same rights traveling by railway as other people. Requirements included in Regulations No.1193 were enforced from 1 January 2014 and apply to construction of new railway objects and existing objects in case of reconstruction. In the field of aviation the regulation (EC) No.1107/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air including European Civil Aviation Conference Doc 30, is applicable to the Republic of Latvia. Quality standards for the passengers with reduced mobility have been set by the managing body of Riga International Airport (RIX) in cooperation with airport users and NGOs. Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers No.145 ’Regulations regarding the Safety of Ro-Ro Passenger Ships and High-Speed Passenger Craft’ (2006) by implementing Directive 2003/24, which amends Directive 98/18/EC on safety rules and standards for passenger ships engaged on domestic voyages, includes specific requirements for persons with reduced mobility.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

C2. Built environment accessibility

The accessibility of the built environment is regulated by the Construction law (2013), in force from 1 October 2014. The Law applies to construction of new buildings, as well to rebuilding, renewal, restoration, demolition, and reconstruction of existing buildings, to changing of the type of use without rebuilding and to preservation. As one of the construction principles, the law defines the principle of environmental accessibility, according to which such environment is created during the construction process, in which any person may move with comfort and use the building according to its purpose of use. On 30 June 2015, the Government approved Latvian construction standards - Latvian Building Code LBN 208-15 'Public Buildings' requiring accessibility of public buildings, and Latvian Building Code LBN 211-15 'Residential Buildings' requiring accessibility of residential buildings.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

C3. ICT and Web accessibility

Chapter ’Universal service’ (article 63) of the Electronic Communications Law (2004) defines special measures in relation to disabled persons. The National regulatory authority (Public Utilities Commission) promotes for end-users, including special social groups and disabled persons, the possibility to choose an electronic communications merchant, the electronic communications services, and electronic communications service tariffs. Public Utilities Commission may take a decision that the public telephone network operator shall perform special measures in order to ensure publicly accessible electronic communications services for disabled persons, including the State Fire-Fighting and Rescue Service, State police, emergency medical care, gas emergency and comprehensive telephone directory service and a comprehensive subscriber directory, moreover such services shall be equivalent to those services, which are received by other end-users. The Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers No.171 ’On Procedure about how institutions put information into the Internet’ (2007) provides that accessibility requirements, based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, elaborated by the World Wide Web Consortium, are to be taken into account. In 2013, the Cabinet of Ministers accepted the Information Society Development Guidelines for 2014-2020. The Guidelines aim to provide an opportunity for everyone to use information and communication technologies, to create a knowledge-based economy and to improve the overall quality of life, to contribute to growth of public administration’ s efficiency, country’ s competitiveness and economic development and to creation of jobs. Latvia neither signed nor ratified the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

D. Independent living

D1. Choice of living arrangements

Article 97 of the Constitution (Satversme) states that every person, residing lawfully in the territory of Latvia has the right to freely move and to choose his or her place of residence. Disabled persons can use these rights in close connection with rights to receive necessary social services. According to the Law on Social Services and Social Assistance (2003), social services shall be provided only based on an assessment of the individual needs and resources of a person, conducted by a social work specialist, in the place of residence of the client or as near to it as possible. Only when the scope of such services is not sufficient, social care and social rehabilitation shall be provided in a long-term care and social rehabilitation institution. When providing social services, the institutions shall ensure interdisciplinary and inter-institutional cooperation, in accordance with basic principles of social services provision: provision of services in the place of residence of the client or as near to it as possible; provision of social care and social rehabilitation in long-term social care rehabilitation institutions only when the amount of social services is not sufficient for the client; evaluation of individual needs and resources; participation of the person in the decision making process; and child care in the family-like environment. In general, the local government of the territory, where a person with disability is registered as the main place of residence, has a duty to provide this person with necessary social services and social assistance corresponding to his or her needs. The same law states that a client (referring also to people with disabilities) has the right to participate in the decision-making process related to the receipt of social services. Social work specialists involve people with disabilities as much as possible in decision-making about their personal care plans, which include provision of necessary social services.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

D2. De-institutionalisation

Basic principles of social services provision in the Law on Social Services and Social Assistance define that services must be provided in the place of residence of the client or as near to it as possible, based on an evaluation of the individual's needs and resources, and involving the person in the decision-making process. Social services in the place of residence (home care, rehabilitation, day care and social rehabilitation institutions, group apartments/group houses, service apartments, night shelters or shelters) are provided prior to provision of services in long-term social care rehabilitation institutions. Amendments to the Law on Social Services and Social Assistance (2006) stipulate a new type of service called 'a halfway house', where people can acquire the skills necessary for independent life. Residence in 'a halfway house' is a transitional stage for people who have lived in special care centres, but are deemed capable of leading an independent life outside them, receiving necessary services at day care centres and other municipal establishments. When a person residing in 'a halfway house' is ready for independent life he/she moves to 'a group house'. The most commonly provided service alternative to institutional living is a day care centre service. Day care centres were established for providing services to different population groups, such as clients at the age of retirement (including persons with dementia), persons with intellectual disability and persons with physical impairments. In 2013, the Cabinet of Ministers accepted The Guidelines for the Development of Social Services 2014-2020 (Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of 4 December 2013 no. 589). In these Guidelines de-institutionalisation is stated as one of the directions for action. The specific policy objectives are to decrease the number of persons with mental disabilities in social care institutions, to promote social care and social rehabilitation services and support to children and persons with disabilities in local government and to improve the customer's individual needs-based services in social care institutions. It is planned that during 2014-2020, 1,000 places in state social care institutions will be cut down, and 700 persons will live independently receiving necessary support. On 15 July 2015, the Minister of Welfare approved the Action Plan for Implementation of De-institutionalisation for 2015-2020. To implement the Action Plan, the Ministry of Welfare, in cooperation with planning regions and municipalities, has initiated the project throughout Latvia, which aims to replace large institutional care centres with community-based social services and services close to the family environment.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

D3. Quality of social services

According to the Law on Social Services and Social Assistance (2003) the Cabinet of Ministers adopted Regulation No.338 ‘Requirements to social service providers’ in 2017. The Regulation defines general requirements (available information, client registration, client evaluation, planning of necessary services, documentation, etc.) and special requirements for service providers to people with disabilities, such as, social service providers (local government social services), home care providers, providers of long-term childcare and social rehabilitation services for children (including those with disabilities), providers of services in long-term social care and social rehabilitation institutions, half-way home service providers, boarding house service providers, respite service providers, group home (apartment) service providers, social service providers providing social rehabilitation services for hearing impaired persons, social service providers providing social rehabilitation services for people with visual impairment, service providers in day care centres, social rehabilitation services for restoration of social functioning service providers, specialized workshop service providers. The law states that municipalities have the right to develop necessary services, therefore the situation may differ from municipality to municipality. Some of local municipalities use (or buy) social services developed by NGOs or from the private sector, such as social care services in institutions.
Article 17¹ of the Law on Social Services and Social Assistance defines a complaints procedure. According to the Law, the administrative statements issued or actual actions of service providers may be contested in the Ministry of Welfare, but the decisions thereof may be appealed in a court if it is not otherwise specified by the law or Cabinet regulations. The administrative statements issued or actual actions of the local governments and institutions as providers of social services or social assistance may be contested in accordance with the Law on Local Governments. Part 4 of Article 17¹ states that the contesting or appeal of a decision of the Ministry of Welfare regarding the removal of a social service provider from the Register of social service providers, a decision of the Ministry of Welfare or a social service provider regarding the suspension or termination of the provision of social services, as well as a decision of the local government regarding the suspension or termination of the provision of social services shall not suspend the operation of the relevant decision, except the case where this operation is suspended by a decision of the institution in which the decision is being contested.

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Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

D4. Provision of assistive devices at home

Article 25 'Provision of Technical Aids' in the Law on Social Services and Social Assistance states that disabled persons, disabled children under the age of 18 years, children for whom the technical aids are necessary to reduce or eliminate functional inability, adult persons for whom the technical aid is necessary to reduce or eliminate functional inability, and persons with "anatomical defects" have the right to receive technical aids if they have received an opinion of a medical practitioner regarding the need for these technical aids. The Cabinet of Ministers, in Regulations No.1474 ’On Technical Aids’ (2009) and Regulations No.1472 ’Order in which Latvian Blind Society and Latvian Deaf Association Provide Social Rehabilitation Services and Technical Aids’ (2009) with amendments in 2012, regulates procedures according to which persons receive technical aids and the distribution of technical aids, and approves the list of technical aids (the so-called 'positive list') to be financed from the state budget. People with disabilities can receive technical aids from the National Rehabilitation Centre 'Vaivari' and its regional units free of charge; they need pay only a participation fee. In accordance with amendments in Regulations No.1474 (2012), people with disabilities can choose the provider of technical aid. If the price is higher than the state’s defined price, the person should pay the difference. Additionally, technical aids can be purchased in special shops or from specialized NGOs.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

D5. Availability of personal assistance schemes

According to the Disability Law (2010), disabled persons with severe functional, intellectual or hearing impairments from 1 January 2013 have the right to a home service of personal assistants up to 40 hours per week financed from the state budget. From 1 September 2012 children with disabilities in general basic education, basic vocational education, general secondary education and secondary vocational education institutions have rights to receive the service of an assistant for mobility and self-care paid for from the state budget.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

D6. Income maintenance

Articles 14-17 of the Law on State Pensions (1995) define the right to a disability pension, which is calculated in accordance with the severity of disability and the suspension of disability pension's payment. According to the law, a person insured for not less than three years, has the right to a disability pension before reaching the age for receiving an old-age pension, if this person has been recognised disabled. In case of a work-related disability or occupational disease, a disability pension shall be granted in accordance with the Law on Compulsory Social Insurance in respect of Accidents at Work and Occupational Diseases. The minimum amounts of the disability pension are based on the State Social Security Benefit:

  • for persons with disability of Group I the amount is 1.6 times of the State Social Security Benefit;
  • for persons with disability of Group II it is 1.4 times of the State Social Security Benefit;
  • the disability pension for Group III is fixed at the amount of the State Social Security Benefit.

In accordance to Article 17, disabled persons, who have attained the age for receiving old-age pension, continue to receive the old-age pension in place of the disability pension. According to Article 13 of the Law on State Social Allowances (2003) a disabled person, who does not have the right to receive a state pension, is not employed and is over 18 years of age, has the right to receive a State social security benefit for the duration of specified disablement. From 1 July 2014 the amount of the State Social Security Benefit has increased by applying a coefficient: for Group I disability – 1.3; and for Group II disability – 1.2. Article 6 ‘State Family Allowance’ defines the rights of the parents of a disabled child younger than 18 years of age to receive a supplement to the State Family Allowance. The right to this supplement is in force from the first day of assigning the status of disability, regardless of the payment of the State Family Allowance, and it is paid until the child reaches 18 years of age.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

D7. Additional costs

Article 7.1 ‘Care of Disabled Child Benefit’ of the Law on State Social Allowances (2003) defines the right of a person who cares for a disabled child to receive the disabled child care benefit, following the decision of the State Medical Commission for the Assessment of Health Condition and Working Ability regarding the child's necessity for special care, due to serious impairments. The payment of this benefit shall terminate at the end of the period of time for which the impairment and the necessity for special care have been specified, or when the child reaches the age of 18. Article 12 ‘Allowance for Compensation of Transport Expenses for Disabled Persons who have Difficulties in Movement’ defines the rights of disabled persons who have mobility impairments to receive an allowance for compensating their transport expenses. The allowance is disbursed twice a year for a full six-month period. This allowance is terminated when the period of time for which the impairment has been specified has expired. Section 12.1 ‘Allowance for a Disabled Person for Whom Care is Necessary’ defines the rights of disabled persons of 18 years of age and over, who due to serious impairments need special care, to receive a Care Allowance. To be eligible to this allowance, disabled persons must have an assessment that determines the necessity of special care, issued by the State Medical Commission for the Assessment of Health Condition and Working Ability, in compliance with the criteria determined by the Cabinet of Ministers.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

D8. Retirement income

In accordance to Article 17 of the Law on State Pensions disabled persons who reach the age for receiving old-age pension shall receive the old-age pension in place of the disability pension.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

E. Education

E1. Special schools

The Law on General Education (1999) defines the types of education implemented in Latvia. It states that special education is a part of general education. Chapter 8 of this Law defines the implementation of educational programmes of special education. The provision of educational services for children with special needs and the procedures for identification of special needs are defined in the Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers. The Law on Education identifies special education as general and professional education adapted for persons with special needs and health problems. The emphasis of special education is on making it possible for a child to develop and contribute to society. The state should provide opportunities to acquire general education and vocational training for persons with special needs, taking into account their health conditions and their levels of physical and mental development. The goals of the curriculum of special compulsory basic education are the same as for mainstream compulsory basic education. The task of special education is to provide possibilities to persons with special educational needs to acquire knowledge in general study subjects as well as living and working skills by focusing on the practical aspects of education; to provide treatment and rehabilitation of pupils at educational institutions; to encourage the development of individual abilities so that pupils may continue education and acquire professional working skills according to their abilities, and participate in social life and work. Special and mainstream schools mainly follow the same curriculum. In mainstream schools, the same curriculum is used for students with and without special needs, though there are some exceptions to the physical activities for those with mobility impairments. In special classes and special schools there are different curricula which are based on the same subjects (language, mathematics, etc.). Parents have the right to choose what kind of educational institution their child will attend: a special school, a special class in a mainstream school, a special group in a mainstream school or if he/she should be included in a mainstream class, but the child should have a statement from the State Pedagogical Medical Commission or municipal commission about an appropriate special education programme. The competence of the Commission and municipal commissions is defined in regulations No.709 (2012) issued by the Cabinet of Ministers. The commissions include professionals such as special teachers, psychologists and speech therapists. They diagnose children's needs for special education provision, define special conditions and supportive measures necessary for teaching and learning as well as provide information on schools implementing appropriate education programmes. Various aspects of a child's performance are assessed. After obtaining the statement from the Commission about an appropriate special education programme, a child can attend a mainstream school if the school is licensed to provide the special education programme and is appropriately accommodating. A child will be admitted to an ordinary, general class, or to a separate class for certain categories of pupils. There is no formal appeal system because the statement issued by the Commission is only considered as a recommendation for parents.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

E2. Mainstream schools

The Constitutional Law (Satversme) determines the right to education for every resident of Latvia. Every citizen, non-citizen and permanent resident of the Republic of Latvia, as well as European Union citizens who have been issued a temporary residence permit and their children have an equal right to acquire education regardless their health status or disability. The Law on the Protection of the Child's Rights (1998) determines equal rights and the possibilities for all children to acquire education according to their personal abilities. The Law on Education (1998) defines the main organizational principles and procedures of educational services and the Law on General Education (1999) defines the organizational principles and procedures of general education services. The main principles and procedures of students' assessment, including those with special needs, are set out in Regulations No.591 (2015) adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers. The Regulations No.710 on the Provision of General Basic Education and General Secondary Education Institutions According to Special Needs (2012) contain the necessary provisions for general educational institutions concerning the integration of pupils with special needs in mainstream schools. On 22 May 2014 the Parliament approved the Guidelines for Education Development 2014-2020 and on 29 June 2015 the Government agreed on the Implementation plan for 2015-2017. The implementation of the activities stated in these policy papers will ensure opportunities for persons with disability to acquire a good quality education throughout their life course, to promote the competitiveness of people with disabilities in the labour market and their independent living as adults. The Implementation plan for 2015-2017 of the Guidelines on the Implementation of the UN CRPD 2014-2020 includes measures to promote access to education and to implement the principle of inclusive education, including by performing measures that focus on awareness raising for teachers about the needs of students with functional disorders and increasing professional competence of teachers. There are no specific grants, allowances or stipends (scholarships) available to disabled students and trainees for the purposes of their education and training. Disabled people or parents of disabled children receive a disability pension or state social benefits and social services funded from social security (disability pensions) or the state budget.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

E3. Sign language and Braille in school

According to the Law on General Education (1999) and relevant regulations, deaf and blind students have rights to practical assistance such as sign language interpretation, Braille, etc. in mainstream schools. According to the Disability Law (2010), from 1 September 2011 pupils have the right to receive the service of a sign language interpreter paid from the State budget for up to 480 academic hours during one school year to attend a programme of basic vocational education, secondary vocational education or higher education. The service of a sign language interpreter is provided by the Latvian Association of the Deaf.

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Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

E4. Vocational training

Vocational education is regulated by the Vocational Education Law (1999) which regulates the implementation of vocational initial education, vocational secondary education and first level higher vocational education and the award of corresponding vocational qualifications. The Ministry of Education and Science is the ministry responsible. At the same time, the vocational rehabilitation (education and training) of persons with disabilities remains the responsibility of the Ministry of Welfare. People with disabilities receive vocational rehabilitation services provided by the Social Integration State Agency’s College (an administrative institution under the supervision of the Ministry of Welfare) and Jurmala Vocational secondary school. These organisations implement initial and secondary vocational education, first level higher vocational education (college education), vocational further education and vocational in-service training programmes. The main objective is to provide and develop vocational rehabilitation and services for people with disabilities, giving them opportunities to acquire a suitable qualification for their future occupation. The Social Integration State Agency provides various services for people with disabilities to facilitate their successful integration into the labour market according to their specific health conditions, general skills and abilities.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

E5. Higher education

Higher education is regulated by the Law on Higher Education Institutions (1995) which applies to all existing institutions of higher education and colleges irrespective of the procedures for the founding and financing and the specialization thereof. This Law regulates the legal grounds for the activities of higher education institutions and colleges, and determines and protects their autonomy. The Constitutional Law (Satversme) provides equal rights to all people. Although higher education is regulated by another law, disabled people’s rights to receive the necessary support apply also after compulsory schooling age. The Implementation plan for 2015-2017 of the Guidelines on the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2014-2020 included measures to promote access to education and to implement the principle of inclusive education. By 2017, it was planned to prepare a conceptual paper on the development of integrated consultancy services in higher education for persons with disabilities that would ensure the provision of individualised information on study programmes and support services. Also it was planned to extend the higher education opportunities to persons with severe disabilities of Disability Groups I and II. There are no specific grants, allowances or stipends (scholarships) available to disabled students and trainees for their education and training. Disabled people or parents of disabled children receive a disability pension or state social benefits and social services.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-12-03

F. Employment

F1. Non-discrimination in employment

The Labour Law (2002) provides protection against all forms of discrimination: direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, instruction to discrimination and victimisation in all aspects of employment relations in public and private sectors. Since 2006, non-discrimination provisions apply to state civil service. According to the Labour Law, everyone has an equal right to work, to fair, safe and healthy working conditions, as well as to fair work remuneration. The Labour Law refers directly to disability and includes a provision of shift of burden of proof. The Law does not include the issues of discrimination by association with disability. The Guidelines on Inclusive Employment 2015-2020 specify actions to be undertaken to support the integration of disabled persons into the labour market, simultaneously promoting person's economic independence and social inclusion. The Guidelines on the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2014-2020 call for actions towards inclusion of disabled persons into labour market by provision of appropriate support, taking into account the type of functional disorder.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

F2. Public employment services

According to the Law on Support for Unemployed Persons and Job Seekers (2002), the State Employment Agency ensures the organisation and implementation of the active labour market policy measures, which promote competitiveness among unemployed people and job seekers in the labour market. The State Employment Agency ensures both short-term and long-term measures: placement and job-search assistance; vocational training, requalification, qualification improvement and non-formal training; measures to enhance competitiveness; career counselling and vocational guidance; subsidized employment for the most vulnerable groups of unemployed; measures to support the unemployed to enter self-employment or entrepreneurship; lifelong learning programme for adults; public employment programme; youth workshops, support for youth volunteer work, and workplace-based training for unemployed young people; measures supporting regional mobility of employees. All these measures also apply to disabled persons, who are registered at the State Employment Agency as unemployed or job seekers. The State Employment Agency helps unemployed persons and job seekers to become involved in the labour market.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

F3. Workplace adaptations

The Labour Law (2002) defines it as a duty of the employer to ensure reasonable accommodation in the workplace. Within the state programme for subsidised employment, employers receive financial support administered by the State Employment Agency. Technical equipment and technical aids for individual use are available for people with disabilities in accordance with the Social service and social Assistance Law (2003). Individual assistance at work (with a co-worker) is available within the programme for subsidised employment offered by the State Employment Agency. Employer shall provide to each unemployed person involved in this measure a qualified supervisor who helps the unemployed to acquire necessary skills. In subsidised employment, unemployed people with disabilities may receive services of ergotherapist, sign language interpreter, support persons, and they are provided with an adjusted work place according to the specific health needs of each person with disability.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

F4. Financial incentives

Disabled people in the open labour market receive the full amount of the disability pension. In addition, the Law on Personal Income Tax states that the non-taxable minimum for persons receiving disability pension in accordance with the Law on State Pensions is higher than the ordinary non-taxable minimum. The State Employment Agency provides to employers financial incentives among which are:

  • a wage subsidy that does not exceed one and a half of the minimum monthly wage amount or equals the state defined minimum monthly wage amount if the unemployed person is employed in low-qualified jobs;
  • an additional payment or monthly wage for foreman in the amount of 50% of the minimum monthly wage amount;
  • a subsidy for mandatory social contributions (if the employer is an NGO whose activities are aimed to support people with disabilities);
  • a single subsidy for expenses due to health examinations set in legal acts on mandatory health examinations and single subsidy for expenses caused by purchase of equipment and facilities; and
  • expenses caused by the production and purchase of technical aids to adjust the workplaces to the needs of a person with disability (but not exceeding EUR 711 for one workplace).

The duration of the provision of the financial support for the employment of unemployed persons with disabilities is 24 months. There is no quota system in Latvia.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

G. Statistics and data collection

G1. Official research

Latvia has no official research institute or department responsible for research on disability equality and the collection of relevant data and statistics. Statistical data which cover disability matters are collected and available in several ministries and institutions (the Ministry of Welfare, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Health, the State Social Insurance Agency, the State Employment Agency, the State Medical Expertise Commission of Health and Capacity for Work). It is planned to make an order of research within available financial resources from European Structural Funds managed by the Ministry of Welfare. At the end of 2017, the Centre for Health Management and Informatics of the Faculty of Medicine conducted a study entitled "Assessment of the Costs of Musculoskeletal Diseases and Recommendations for Cost Optimization". The main aim of the study was to obtain evidence of the total cost burden for society of individuals with musculoskeletal disorders in order to better target support measures for this group of people and their inclusion in society and the labour market. Based on the results of the research, thirteen recommendations have been developed related to cost optimization,improvement of welfare policy and research opportunities, improvement of the disability allocation process and the possibilities of changing existing social support practices in cases of incapacity for work.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

G2. Census data

In accordance with the Law on Statistics the Central Statistical Bureau is responsible for the official statistical system. The Population and Housing Census (the first Population and Housing Census after Latvia joined the European Union (EU) and the tenth Census since Latvia was founded) was established on 1 March 2011. Individual data acquired during the Population and Housing Census on each resident and his/her housing are confidential. The individual questionnaire includes questions on legal marital status, ethnicity, main language used at home, education and economic activity as well as on migration of the population. The housing questionnaire includes questions on the number of household members as well as on indicators that characterise the housing in terms of type of building, ownership, useful floor space, water supply system, type of heating, facilities etc. Residents are also asked to provide information on persons emigrated from Latvia for permanent residence in other countries. There are no disability related questions.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

G3. Labour Force Survey

According to the laws of the Republic of Latvia, the Central Statistical Bureau is a direct administration body, subordinated to the Ministry of Economy, and is the main performer and coordinator of the official statistical work in the country. The Central Statistical Bureau is responsible for organising the statistical work and for the reliability of the data it produces by summarizing the information obtained from the respondents. The Central Statistical Bureau compiles the National Labour Force Survey. In these surveys persons have a possibility, when doing self-evaluation, to make a reference that he/she has long-term incapacity for work or disability. Specific questions on disability are not included. From 2002 the survey is taken every week throughout the whole year. Data on employment and unemployment are published and are available in section E-publications. Last available publication is Labour force survey in 1995-2014 (only in Latvian). Latvia did not participate in the European Labour Force Survey module 2002.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

G4. Disability equality indicators

Latvia does not have any disability equality indicators for measuring progress towards disability equality.

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

H. Awareness and external action

H1. Awareness raising programs

On 21 November 2013, the Government (the Cabinet of Ministers) approved the Guidelines for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2014 – 2020. The Guidelines include a section on 'Society Awareness' aimed to promote opportunities for persons with disabilities to implement their human rights and freedoms. From 2015 to 2020 a number of activities are planned to inform and educate society about disabled persons and their rights, preventive measures related to avoidable or hidden disability, best practices in promoting tolerance, as well as to promote awareness-raising of specialists in different fields. Different events have been organised by the ministries or municipalities responsible in cooperation with NGOs to celebrate the International Day of People with Disabilities and the International Day of the Deaf, where the problematic issues for persons with disabilities were raised.
On 5 December 2015 the Government approved the Implementation plan 2015-2017 of the Guidelines on the Implementation of the UN CRPD 2014-2020 where specific measures to reach the goals defined in the Guidelines are set. 'Public awareness' is one of four actions under which it is planned to promote opportunities for persons with disabilities to implement their human rights and freedom to live a full-fledged and dignified life, ensure qualitative informative and democratic society, and strengthen communication and understanding. Until 2017 it is foreseen to develop a system of effective, high quality and sustainable social services adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities; to introduce support services for persons with mental disorders; to inform society about persons with disabilities; to develop preventive measures related to hidden disabilities; to produce state financed broadcast programmes (including documentary programmes) with the participation of persons with disabilities; to improve information accessibility for people with visual impairments; to improve the accessibility of elections and environmental accessibility for persons with disabilities. The Ministry of Welfare is responsible for the implementation of the Plan. In general, the implementation of these measures is foreseen from the state budget resources, targeting the European Structural Funds funding for the realisation of separate activities.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

H2. Training for teachers

Disability issues are included in the general curriculum of the university training for school teachers. Teachers are trained at higher education level at a university or a college. Training includes general education studies; studies related to specific subjects and professional studies, a full course of professional studies lasts from 4 to 5 years. The qualification of a special teacher can be acquired by completing a 4 or 4.5 years professional study programme concerning a specific disability. For previously qualified teachers the special teaching qualification may be acquired after completing a 2.5 year programme of study. There is no information on whether awareness/equality issues are included in training programmes. Disabled persons organisations are not involved in training.

The information for teachers on training courses for their professional development financed from the state budget in 2016 is available on the homepage of the Ministry of Education. The Pedagogical Education Centre for Adults of Faculty of Education, Psychology and Art of the University of Latvia offers teachers paid courses for their professional competence development, inter alia a course 'Typical features of pedagogic process in work with children with mental development disorders, mental development delays and learning disorders'. By acquiring this programme, teachers develop their knowledge and practical skills on organizing the pedagogic work, choosing methods and tools for students with mental development disorders, mental development delays and learning disorders to acquire the study content; get an introduction into possibilities for diagnostics of development disorders and practical diagnostic methods, as well as develop their knowledge and skills in preparing individual training and up-bringing programmes, in assessing knowledge of pupils and developing teachers, parents and society cooperation models. At the end of the course, a teacher receives a Certificate allowing to work with children with mental development disorders, mental development delays and learning disorders.

Links

Update date: Thu, 2017-05-18

H3. Training for lawyers

The Latvian Judicial Training Centre is the only institution in Latvia to provide continuing education for judges and court employees. The main task of this Centre is to provide quality continuing education and professional qualification-building activities (seminars, experience exchange trips, etc.) for professionals within the legal system, with special attention to subjects on and improvements to the quality of court judgments, as well as preparing professionals for quality work within the legal system of the European Union. The Centre also provides training for other legal professionals, including public prosecutors, attorneys, lawyers and employees of governmental bodies and municipal institutions. However, disability-awareness and equality issues are not included in these training programmes. Disabled persons’ organisations are not involved in training.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

H4. Training for doctors

There is no information about whether awareness/equality issues are included in the training programmes for doctors. Disabled persons’ organisations are not involved in these trainings.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

H5. Training for engineers

There is no information whether awareness/equality issues are included in the training programmes for engineers. Disabled persons’ organisations are not involved in these trainings.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

H6. International development aid

On 20 March 2018 the Cabinet of Ministers approved the Development Cooperation Policy Plan for 2018 drawn up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The plan sets out concrete measures for putting into practice Latvia’s Development Cooperation Policy Guidelines for 2016–2020. The objective of the development cooperation policy of Latvia is to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in developing countries, particularly in priority partner countries of Latvia, by promoting sustainable development and eradication of poverty, rule of law, and good governance. Disability aspects are not indicated in this document.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-12-04

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